In November 2014, Belgian cigar aficionados got some exciting news - another La Casa del Habano boutique was opened, now in Hasselt. This country now boasts 5 'casas' - the other four can be found in Knokke, Gent, Antwerp and Brussels. You might already have heard about the Knokke and Gent boutique, managed by Dominique Gyselinck and Frédéric Dechamps. The same team is behind the Hasselt shop, so if you're passing by don't forget to have a look (Google Maps >) at their range of fresh Habanos in the biggest walk-in humidor of Benelux.
Origin : Cuba
Format : Maravillas No. 1 (Double Robusto)
Size : 7-1/8" (182 mm) x 55
500 “books” of 20 produced in 2005
Box Date : FIM – September 2005; Box #150 of 500
Price : Market Value roughly $1,600/book or $80/cigar
More info about purchasing Montecristo cigars...
The Montecristo Colección Habanos 2005 commemorated the 70th anniversary of the brand. It is the fifth “volume” of the Habanos Collection Series which began in 2001. The Colección releases are notable for both quality and the unique presentation (see photographs).
I meant to smoke and review this in the summer, but just never got to it. I purchased this “book” at initial release and have smoked a few. I recall enjoying these, but not being blown away. Now that we are into its 9th year, I thought it was a good time to see how they are developing. Reviewing this on a cold, rainy night while sitting next to an aromatic fire, paired with a very dry, gin martini (my preferred libation with Montecristos and Cohibas).
Recently I was sent a free copy of a new picture book called From Seeds to Cigars by William R. Miller. If you’re interested in learning how tobacco is grown and processed and manufactured into cigars, this is a great pictorial step-by-step which goes into cigar manufacturing in-depth.
Who is William R. Miller? He’s a cigar enthusiast who has been smoking since the 70s. In 2006, he began working at Famous Smoke Shop as a graphic designer. This gave him a lot of inside insights into the industry, and of course plenty of time to smoke cigars. During his time at Famous, he had the chance to take a trip to Estili, Nicaragua, and Danli, Honduras, where cigars are made. While he was on his trip, William realized he wanted to write a book, and started snapping pictures and researching.
What’s the book like? Available from Amazon at $12.99, it’s short (only around 25 pages), which may be a detractor at the price point, but it still makes for a nice coffee table book with the bright, colorful pictures and simple explanations (it’d also be a great choice for a table at a cigar lounge). From Seeds to Cigars does a wonderful job illustrating the manufacturing process so that you can easily understand how certain processes (like curing or fermenting) affect the final product. It’d make a great gift, especially for a cigar newbie who wants to glean a better understanding of how cigars are made. The design of the book is very nice, and reflects an appreciation for craftsmanship.
Courtesy of William, we’re giving away three copies of From Seeds to Cigars to our readers! To enter into the drawing, just post a comment below.
Contest open internationally. We'll announce the winners in one week.
On December 17th, the White House released a statement outlaying a plan to normalize relationships with Cuba. This is a huge change after decades of Cold War policies in place, and follows a recent exchange of prisoners between both countries. President Obama, speaking about the changes, said, “Neither the American, nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.” He goes on to add, “We are taking steps to increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba.” There is finally going to be a U.S. embassy in Havana. It will be the first time since January 3, 1961 that America has operated an embassy inside Cuban borders, so this is again historic news.
This is also fantastic news for cigar enthusiasts! It is now legal for the first time in decades to import Cuban cigars. If you travel to Cuba, you can bring back $400 worth of goods, including $100 worth of tobacco and alcohol products—including Cuban cigars. This is still pretty restrictive. You won’t be able to bring back much in the way of boxes, but at least now you can legally transport back a few stogies of your choice, and perhaps one of the cheaper boxes. What’s great about this too is that now it is legal to smoke Cuban cigars in the U.S. While obviously people have been doing this for decades without consequence, it was technically a violation of the law, and now it isn’t. The U.S. is the largest market for Cuban cigars already, despite the trade embargo. With restrictions lifting, the industry might thrive even more.
Early this year, the news hit that the FDA is seeking to extend its control over tobacco products. If the FDA is granted this control, it will have a great deal of regulatory power over product packaging, marketing, outreach, and more. And if those products were to include premium cigars, that would mean an end to the beautiful packaging that we have come to expect on our premium cigar boxes. Artwork would be replaced by warnings (you can see an example here...), all of this in the name of preventing America’s youth from indulging in tobacco.
Of course, as you and I both know, cigars are hardly a “gateway” drug for a lot of teens, who are far more likely to go and pick up a cheap box of cigarettes than an expensive premium stogie. It would be insane for the FDA to impose the same restrictions over the cigar industry—which is focused on quality and artistry, not on volume of sales or addicting America’s youth.
If you have been following the situation, you know that a congressional committee proposed early on that premium cigars be excluded from these changes. The FDA opened up a comment period, and a lot of cigar activists reached out with their concerns and opinions (including, I’m guessing, a number of readers here on this site).
So what’s the news? It’s good news, because it looks like Congress is hearing us. In the recently introduced “CRomnibus” budget package, the premium cigar industry was discussed as follows:
“Regulations.- The Committee is encouraged that FDA has provided options for a way forward on distinguishing between premium cigars and other tobacco products in its recently proposed rule ''Deeming Tobacco Products To Be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as Amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act; Regulations on the Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products and Required Warning Statements for Tobacco Products'' (Docket No. FDA-2014-N-0189). In particular, the Committee notes that FDA is considering excluding premium cigars from the scope of this proposed rule through Option 2. The Committee believes this could be a viable solution, given that the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act makes little mention of cigars throughout the legislation, and there is even less evidence that Congress intended to focus on the unique subset of premium cigars. The Committee notes that premium cigars are shown to be distinct from other tobacco products in their effects on youth initiation, the frequency of their use by youth and young adults, and other such behavioral and economic factors.”
So it looks like Congress at least is starting to understand that premium cigars should not be included in the new act, because premium cigars have nothing to do with indoctrinating America’s youth into tobacco culture. This is a very good sign that we are winning the war against proposed tyrannical legislation that would hurt the industry and the community.
It is important though to know that the fight is not yet won, and that the 114th Congress is going to be sworn in on January 6th, and that is going to mean a whole new slew of changes. While the current Congress appears to support the premium cigar industry and community, we will be faced with the challenge of reaching out to a new group of state officials. Our voices are going to be more important than ever. So keep checking back for more updates as we head into 2015 (you can join Cigar Rights of America to support the cause and get the latest updates in real-time), and remember to keep writing your senators and representatives, and continue to reach out directly to the FDA. If we stay the course, we can win this one!
One week ago we introduced you to a craftsman who creates excellent cigar-related artwork (just have a look at the poster above...), Darrel Morris. We've had two of his prints to give away to our readers.
The randomly chosen winners are: Michael and Pete! Please claim your prize via the contact form.
Many thanks to Darrel and don't forget to check out his work!
As I stated in my best cigar books post, proceeds from sale of books would be given back to one lucky reader in the form of a gift certificate. Here is another one. It is a gift card for $32 that can be redeemed on Amazon.com (doesn't work on .co.uk or .fr).
Just leave a comment on this post to be entered in the draw. The winner will be announced in one week, next Tuesday - just in time for Christmas and New Year! :)
Want to support CigarInspector.com? If you do your Amazon gift purchases through this link, we'll earn a small $. Thank you!